Invited Speakers

Marco Cambiaghi

Dep. Neurosciences, Biomedicine and Movement Sciences,University of Verona (Italy) • Marco Cambiaghi is a neurophysiologist with a strong background in in-vivo electrophysiology and behavior in rodent models, serving as an Assistant Professor of Physiology at the University of Verona, where he teaches human physiology and scientific dissemination. Dr. Cambiaghi has a Master degree in Biology (University of Milan) and a PhD in Experimental Medicine (San Raffaele University). During and after his PhD he worked as a visiting scientist at the City University of New York, the Columbia University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. Back to Italy Dr. Cambiaghi spent 6 years at the University of Turin, focusing on the study of emotional memories. In 2018 he obtained the prestigious Bodini Fellowship of the Italian Academy at the Columbia University. Dr. Cambiaghi research is mainly focused on neural plasticity and its modulation through non-invasive brain stimulation techniques (tDCS and rTMS), in the mouse models of brain ischemia, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. In addition, Dr. Cambiaghi also has a strong interest in the history of science and in scientific dissemination, fields that he pursues since many years. He cooperates with Italian newspapers (La Stampa and La Provincia) and takes an active part in scientific festivals (e.g. Festival della Luce; Galileo Festival), school and general audience dissemination.

Laura Cancedda

Italian Institute of Technology - IIT, Genova (Italy) • Laura Cancedda received her PhD at the Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy. She did her postdoc at University of Berkeley, California. In 2006, she joined the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) as the principal investigator of the Neurodevelopment and disease lab. She also was also a researcher at the Telethon Dulbecco Institute from 2016 to 2021, and she is an alumna of the FENS KAVLI network of excellence. In 2016, she received a Consolidator grant from the ERC. The Cancedda lab, studies brain development in health and disease, and tries to discover novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders. The lab utilizes a multidisciplinary approach with molecular biology, biochemistry, electrophysiology and behavioral tests.

Rafael Fernández-Chacón

Instituto de Biomedicina de Sevilla (IBiS) - Hosp. Univ. Virgen del Rocío/CSIC/Universidad de Sevilla (Spain) • Rafael Fernández-Chacón is Professor of Physiology, Director of the Institute of Biomedicine of Seville (IBiS) and CIBERNED Investigator. He obtained his M.D. (1990) and Ph.D. degrees (1995) from the University of Seville. He performed his doctoral thesis work at the Department of Medical Physiology and Biophysics with Prof. Guillermo Alvarez de Toledo on the biophysical aspects of exocytosis in mast cells, studying the release of transmitter through the transient opening of the fusion pore (kiss and run). From 1995 to 2001, Fernández-Chacón trained as postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Thomas C. Südhof at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Dallas and, during the end of that period, he also worked with Dr. Christian Rosenmund at the Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen. As a postdoct, Fernández-Chacón worked on the molecular mechanisms of calcium-dependent neurotransmitter release, investigating the role of synaptic vesicle proteins such as synaptotagmin as calcium-sensor for exocytosis. In 2002, Fernández-Chacón started his independent group at the University of Seville. Using multidisciplinary approaches, his group investigates the function and dysfunction of the synaptic vesicle cycle in genetically modified mice with a major focus in the study of the molecular mechanisms underlying the maintenance of nerve terminals and neurodegeneration in humans.

Giacomo Koch

Santa Lucia IRCCS/Università di Ferrara, Ferrara (Italy) • Giacomo Koch is a neurologist and neuroscientist leading the non-invasive brain stimulation lab at the Santa Lucia Foundation in Rome and Professor of Human Physiology at the University of Ferrara. The main goals of his research are to understand the mechanisms underlying cortical plasticity and cortical connectivity in the healthy human brain, in order to develop novel therapeutic approaches to promote recovery of neurological functions trough methods of non-invasive brain stimulation. Dr. Koch has a long-lasting experience in the field of clinical neurophysiology of motor and cognitive functions. His main expertise is in the application of non-invasive brain stimulation techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), mainly used in combination with structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and with electroencephalography (EEG). He developed novel methods based on multifocal TMS approached to investigate in real-time the task related activation of parieto-frontal cortical circuits (i.e. Koch et al., J Neurosci, 2006,2007,2008) and to study the local mechanisms of cortico-cortical plasticity (Koch et al., J Neurosci, 2013, Veniero et al., J Neurosci, 2013; Casula et al., Scientific Reports, 2016) Dr. Koch performed several clinical trials evaluating the therapeutic efficacy of rTMS in different neurological disorders. For instance, he used rTMS to treat motor symptoms of conditions such as of Parkinson's disease (Koch et al., Neurology 2005, 2009, Cerasa et al, Brain 2015), progressive sopranuclear paralysis (Brusa et al., Brain Stimulation 2014) and focal dystonia (Koch et al., Brain Stimulation 2014). Moreover he conducted clinical studies using rTMS to promote recovery of language and spatial deficits in patients suffering from ischemic stroke (i.e. Koch et al. Brain, 2008; J Neurosci, 2011; Neurology 2012). Dr. Koch is also actively investigating the mechanisms of cortical plasticity in patients with Alzheimer's disease. He was among the firsts to demonstrate the impairment of long term potentiation (LTP) in this neurological condition (Koch et al., JAD 2012, Di Lorenzo et al., Annals of Neurol, 2016) and how dopaminergic therapy could potentially restore such abnormalities (Koch et al., Neuropsychopharmachology, 2014). Dr. Koch is actually involved in research aimed at verifying the potential effects of rTMS applied over the default mode network in patients with early Alzheimer's disease, in order to improve memory trough a consistent variation in functional and structural brain connectivity. Moreover he is actually studying the possibility to activate cerebellar-cortical circuits trough rTMS in order to promote motor recovery in patients with cortical-subcortical stroke.

Konstantinos Meletis

Karolinska Institutet / Department of Neuroscience (Sweden) • Konstantinos Meletis is Professor in Systems Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet. He performed his doctoral training with Prof. Jonas Frisén at Karolinska Institutet, investigating the role of stem and progenitor cells during injury to the central nervous system. He performed his postdoctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) under the supervision of Prof. Li-Huei Tsai, where he developed and applied in vivo optogenetic methods to investigate the role of GABAergic interneurons using transgenic mice, viral approaches, electrophysiology, and behavior. He established in 2011 an independent laboratory as Assistant Professor at Karolinska Institutet focusing on the investigation of circuits involved in motivated behaviors. The Meletis laboratory takes a systems neuroscience approach to establish the organization and function of brain circuits that play key roles in motivated behaviors. The laboratory focus is on the systematic dissection of circuits that control the evaluation and selection of actions, rewards, aversive signals, and generally decision-making, with the intention to establish the fundamental principles of circuit function during discrete behaviors. A key to this investigation is the development and use of advanced technologies to probe the organization and function of candidate circuits, focusing on the role of the basal ganglia, hypothalamus, habenula, and serotonin system. The long-term vision is to provide mechanistic understanding at the circuit level to develop therapeutic interventions that can reverse circuit imbalance for mood and addiction-related disorders.

Rodrigo Quian Quiroga

Centre for Systems Neuroscience, University of Leicester (UK) • Rodrigo Quian Quiroga holds a Research Chair and is the director of the Centre for Systems Neuroscience at the University of Leicester, UK. He graduated in Physics at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina and obtained his PhD in Applied Mathematics at the University of Luebeck, Germany. He received a Young Investigator Award from the American Epilepsy Society in 2001 and a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award in 2010. In 2014 he was selected as one of the 10 UK RISE Leaders in Science and Engineering and in 2019 he was elected a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. His main research interest is on the study of the principles of visual perception and memory. He discovered what have been named "Concept Cells" or "Jennifer Aniston neurons"—neurons in the human brain that play a key role in memory formation— a finding that was selected as one of the top 100 scientific stories of 2005 by Discover Magazine. His work has been published in about 130 research articles and has received world-wide media attention. He is the author of 5 books, including “Borges and Memory” and "Neuroscience Fiction".

Maria Rescigno

Humanitas University, Humanitas Research Hospital, Milan (Italy) • Maria Rescigno is full professor, vice-rector and delegate for research at Humanitas University and group leader at Humanitas Research hospital, Milan. She graduated in Biology in 1990 at the University of Milan. From 1991 to 1994 she worked at the University of Cambridge, UK, in the Department of Biochemistry, as a visiting scholar. From 1995 to 1999, she worked at the National Research Council of Milan where she received her PhD in Pharmacology and toxicology in 1999. From 1999 to 2001 she worked at the University of Milano-Bicocca where she specialized in Applied Biotechnology. From 2001 to 2017 she has been the director of the Dendritic cell biology and immunotherapy Unit at the Department of Experimental Oncology at the European Institute of oncology. She was the first to show that dendritic cells actively participate to bacterial uptake in the gut, the existence of a gut vascular barrier that resembles the blood brain barrier and the discovery of a new vascular barrier in the choroid plexus. Her major field of interest is mucosal immunology, the microbiota and the development of new cancer immunotherapy strategies. She authored more than 170 publications in high impact journals including Science, Nature Immunol, Immunity, J. Exp. Med., Science TM. She was nominated EMBO young investigator in 2007. In 2008-2013 she was visiting professor at the University of Oslo. In 2011 Maria Rescigno won the Avon prize as ‘Woman symbol of the city of Milan’ and was elected EMBO member. She has been the recipient of three ERC grants (starting, proof-of-concept and consolidator). From 2019 she is member of the EMBO council. She seats in the technical and scientific board of several charities (AIRC, L’Oreal), funding agencies (SNF) and in different companies (Gelesis, MillBo, SiFi). In 2016 Maria Rescigno has founded Postbiotica s.r.l. a spin-off of the University of Milan that exploits microbiota-derived metabolites as new pharmaceutical agents. In 2017 Postbiotica has won two competitions: Bioupper (Italy) and MyStart BCN (Spain). H-index: 71

Dirk Sieger

Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh (UK) • Dirk Sieger studied biology at the University of Cologne in Germany and received his PhD in 2002 from the Institute for Genetics for his work on the segmentation clock with Diethard Tautz. He then worked as a postdoctoral researcher with Maria Leptin with a focus on interferon signalling and showed that the basic mechanisms of this important pathway are conserved in zebrafish. Funded by an EMBO fellowship he joined Francesca Peri’s group at the EMBL in Heidelberg in 2009, where he studied the responses of microglia to brain injuries. In 2012 Dirk established his lab at the University of Edinburgh. His lab aims to understand the role of microglia in the development and progression of brain tumours. Dirk and his team have pioneered the investigation of how microglia interact with brain tumour cells during the initiation of tumour formation in living brains using zebrafish. Exploiting the advantages of the new model, they were able to show that microglia and infiltrating macrophages play a key role during brain tumour initiation and actively promote the proliferation of early tumour cells.

Amanda Sierra Saavedra

Achucarro Basque Center for Neuroscience Fundazioa, Leioa (Spain) • Dr. Amanda Sierra is a Research Professor at Ikerbasque and Achucarro Basque Center for Neuroscience, and an academic collaborator of the Department of Neurosciences, University of the Basque Country EHU/UPV. She obtained her PhD at the Cajal Institute in Madrid and then moved to the US for her postdoctoral training at Rockefeller University, Stony Brook University, and Baylor College of Medicine, where she discovered the beauty of microglia. At Achucarro, she is the director of the Glial Cell Biology Lab, where her research has focused on understanding the process of engulfment and removal of apoptotic cells through phagocytosis: how is regulated, how efficient it is, what are its functional consequences, and whether it can be therapeutically exploited. She has served as Secretary (2015-2017) and Vice-president (2017-2019) of the Spanish Society for Neuroscience (SENC), and the Women in Neuroscience SENC Committee (2015-2022). Currently, she is part of the editorial board of the journal Glia and a member of the Life Science Office of the Spanish Confederation of Scientific Societies (COSCE).

Henrique Veiga-Fernandes

Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Champalimaud Foundation, Lisboa (Portugal) • Henrique Veiga-Fernandes studied Veterinary Medicine at Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal and at Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy. In 2002, he obtained a PhD in Immunology from Université René Descartes, Paris, France, before moving to the National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK, as a postdoc. In 2009, he returned to Portugal to set up his independent research group at Instituto de Medicina Molecular, where he became a member of the direction team in 2014. In 2016, Henrique Veiga-Fernandes joined the Champalimaud Center for the Unknown, Portugal, where he is currently a Senior Group Leader. Henrique Veiga-Fernandes was elected a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) in 2015, and he was made Commander of the Order of Sant’Iago da Espada by Portugal in the same year. He secured several European Research Council (ERC) awards (2007, 2013, 2015 and 2017) and has previously won the Pfizer Prize for basic Science (2014 and 2016), the senior research award from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, USA (2014), the Innovator and Breakthrough Awards from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, USA (2013 and 2014), the National Blood Foundation Scholar, USA (2012), and he integrated the EMBO Young Investigator Programme in 2008.

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